Lansing, MI – Environmentalists in Michigan have announced an ambitious plan for addressing many public health and environmental issues are threatening Michigan and its residents.
In an email sent to supporters, Interim Executive Director & Policy Director Michigan Environmental Council, James Clift, said, “One month into 2019, and new and old elected officials are getting settled here in Lansing, but there is no time to waste. A whole slew of public health and environmental issues are threatening Michigan and its residents.”
Joined by over twenty partner organizations, the Michigan Environmental Council and Michigan League of Conservation Voters has put forth a three- year plan with the following outcomes:
Refocusing state government on serving the residents of Michigan
Protecting Water from source to tap
Addressing hazardous substances, contaminated sites, and PFAS contamination
Safeguarding children’s health
Continuing Michigan’s transition to clean and efficient energy
Mitigating risks from climate change and increasing resiliency
Advancing transportation solutions
Moving toward sustainable agriculture
Promoting environmental justice
Protecting and celebrating Michigan’s outdoor heritage
Addressing Michigan’s solid waste and recycling laws
Michigan Environmental Council First 100-Days Play for 2019
The plan includes the following goals for the first 100-days of the 2019 for Michigan:
Reorient the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to its core functions by revamping the mission statement to focus on protecting human health and the environment and remove the current misson’s reference to promoting a “vibrant economy.”
Eliminate the environmental rules commission and permit appeals panel that transferred final authority on environmental permits, administrative rules and cleanup plans from state government to unaccountable, unelected boards and panels.
Create citizens oversight commissions or citizen ombudsman positions within all state departments to allow residents to have their voices heard and concerns addressed; appoint representatives of environmental justice communities.
Ensure the DEQ increases scrutiny of Inland Lake Management Plans, encouraging the surveying of aquatic vegetation and adding requirements to help prevent the spread and introduction of aquatic nuisance species, giving preference to prevention and alternatives over chemical treatments.
Stop using PFAS where they are non-essential or when safer alternatives exist, including PFAS foam; improve methods for testing the safety of alternatives. If they must be used, require containment measures and reporting.
Create a task force to review, update, and elevate the state environmental education curriculum to help students understand and address environmental challenges, and advance environmental and environmental health education.
Establish a diverse stakeholder process to have a broad discussion and create recommendations around reforms to revenue sharing and local property taxation, including renewable energy and energy infrastructure property taxes.
Establish an Office of Climate Change and an Interagency Climate Adaptation Task Force to gather, develop and analyze the risks and vulnerabilities to Michigan, advance the state’s civic and cultural discourse around resiliency and listen and respond to residents, businesses, and local governments.
Pledge Michigan to meet the Paris Agreement climate goals, establish a diverse stakeholder planning process and outline a plan for how to get there, including steps that will ensure all sectors of Michigan’s economy can transition away from fossil fuels entirely by 2050 (achieved potentially through a 100% by 2050 renewable portfolio standard).
Direct state agencies, and introduce legislation encouraging local governments, to develop and implement climate action and resiliency plans that include specific goals, metrics and timelines; ensure resources needed to meet the goals of the plans are included in budget asks; and examine all parts of the budget through a climate change lens.
Implement Michigan’s comprehensive plan to address the loss of pollinators; mitigate threats to both managed and wild pollinators by increasing pollinator habitat throughout Michigan and limiting pesticide exposure from industry.
Direct the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to issue guidelines allowing solar installations on PA 116 land if it is paired with pollinator habitat, native grasses or some other agricultural use.
Retain the new EJ ombudsman position and the interagency workgroup and ensure that the Environmental Justice Advisory Council is established; recruit members of impacted communities to serve on state boards and commissions.
Issue an executive order requiring the DEQ to identify EJ communities and to outline additional agency actions that will be taken in permit and agency decisions to better protect these communities from pollution; those actions should include conducting EJ analyses and measuring and mitigating cumulative health impacts from air and water toxins.
Ensure Michigan continues to play its leadership role among Great Lakes states in efforts to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes; support funding and construction of protections against Asian carp at Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, IL, providing direct financial support from the state to advance the project and working to secure funding commitments from neighboring states for constructing an effective solution.
Maximize stakeholder input and ecosystem management by independently and dually certifying forestland through the Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative processes.
Roll back the expansion of timberland into state game areas, state parks and wilderness areas.
Revitalize planning efforts around high value natural areas and improve the conservation, protection and preservation of source and groundwater protection areas as green infrastructure, including in the scoring of Trust Fund Projects.
Gathering input from member and partner organizations, the Michigan Environmental Council has presented an Environmental Roadmap for lawmakers and the new administration, as been a multi-year plan for addressing Michigan’s top environmental and public health challenges.
JD Sullivan is the Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Green Action News. He has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism/Mass Communication. JD is passionate about journalism & sustainable living.